A Militia’s Own Private Idaho
The first thing you should know about The Citadel is that it doesn’t really exist…yet. For now, it is an artist’s rendering of walls, towers, homes, an arms factory, a website, and a developing story. The organizers and developers intend to build an intentional community—a gunner’s paradise, if you will—in the mountains of Northern Idaho and, despite the rugged setting, the pathway to The Citadel is pretty straight and narrow. Liberals of any size, shape or color, need not apply.
While still basically a fantasy, in early September, Citadel organizers “gathered at a 20-acre plot they had already purchased as a starter base camp, according to county records,” a report in the Nation revealed. “Whether or not the Citadel is built, the gathering itself is important and it could become the most significant turning point in the militia and survivalist world since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the FBI crackdown on armed paramilitaries that followed.”
Two of the main forces behind The Citadel are James L. Miller and Christian Kerodin. According to Poli- ticker.com’s Hunter Walker, Miller “is many things, a motorcycle enthusiast, accused online scammer, doomsday prepper, gunmaker, and cat lover.” Kerodin “also wears a number of hats. He is an air conditioning repairperson, blogger, author, self-styled security consultant, and convicted extortionist.”
An ambitious project, The Citadel’s developers are aiming to build housing for between 3,500 and 7,000 “patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of liberty—the rifle— are prudent measures…. There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.”
The artist’s concept has The Citadel including a perimeter-fenced road with numerous castle-style fortified walls and towers, interior defensive walls and towers, an on-site gun factory, schools, an amphitheater, a firearms museum, reflecting pool, and farmer’s market.
According to its website, residents of The Citadel will be “bound together by patriotism, and pride in American exceptionalism. Our proud history of Liberty as defined by our Founding Fathers, and physical preparedness to survive and prevail in the face of natural catastrophes—such as Hurricanes’ Sandy or Katrina—or human-made catastrophes such as a power grid failure or economic collapse.”
On its homepage, The Citadel’s organizers/developers want “Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans” to fully understand that they are not welcome as they “will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.”
The Citadel organizers are aiming “to purchase between 2,000-3,000 acres. Of that, 640-1,280 acres are to be walled-in. Plot sizes for the leases inside the walls will be no more than one acre for home sites and larger lots will be available outside the walls.
“We have purchased 20 mountaintop acres in Benewah County. This will become the initial factory location for our firearms company and will be developed into a Showcase for the larger Citadel concept.”
A Disneyland for Patriots
The model will be similar in many ways to that of Disneyland. It is walled, gated, private property with controlled access,” the website pointed out. “People pay to enter and agree to the rules because they see value in doing so. It is all based on a voluntary agreement between the owners of the property and those who want to come inside. Millions of people visit Disneyland and interact peacefully. It’s exceptionally rare to hear of any serious problems. The key is that those people want to be there and understand what is expected of them. Surprisingly similar to what we are doing.”
Writing for the Nation, Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart, the president and vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, pointed out that, “A price calculator on the website is supposed to enable prospective buyers to determine housing costs based on square footage, the size of the lot, and whether the place was to be built inside the walls or outside. A 2,000-square-foot unfinished home on an acre lot outside the walls is calculated to cost $1,111 a month. A 900-square-foot home on a quarter of an acre inside the walls is $500 a month, $580 if the Citadel does the work to finish the exterior.”
Firearms Uber Alles
The Atlantic magazine’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote that there are a number of “rules that relate to firearms”: “Everyone 13 years and older ‘shall annually demonstrate proficiency with the rifle of his/her choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 100 yards with open sights at the Citadel range.’
“They must also ‘annually demonstrate proficiency with a handgun of choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 25 yards with open sights at the Citadel range.’
“Every able-bodied Patriot of age within the Citadel will maintain one A-15 variant in 5.56 mm NATO, at least 5 magazines, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
“Every child attending Citadel schools—with parental discretion for maturity—shall have as part of every semester’s class curriculum basic marksmanship and firearms safety training leading to the proficiency test on the child’s 13th birthday as a ‘Coming of Age’ rite of passage.
“All Patriots, who are of age and are not legally restricted from bearing firearms, shall agree to remain armed with a loaded sidearm whenever visiting the Citadel Town Center. Firearms shall be on-the-person and under the control of the Resident, not merely stored in a vehicle…it doesn’t matter if the subculture is made up of extreme gun enthusiasts or hippies or Scientologists or Trappist monks,” Friedersdorf noted. “In forming their enclave, they’re exercising one of their liberties; but their communities shouldn’t be mistaken as being ‘dedicated to the principles of libertarianism,’ as a writer at Gawker characterized The Citadel. Nor should The Citadel be mistaken for the sort of place Jefferson would have seen as exemplifying model republican living.”
According to The Citadel organizers, hundreds of families have already signed up through its website. Interestingly, an advertisement on The Citadel’s website carries an advertisement for a gun retailer urging visitors to “buy an AR-15 before it’s too late”— referring to military-type assault rifles as used by gunman Adam Lanza during the Sandy Hook massacre.
Chris Kerodin and Jim Miller
In the Nation, Zeskind and Burghart reported that: Christian Kerodin “was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, as Christian Allen Hyman. He spent his youth training at a traditional Akijutsu dojo in Washington, DC, and with people he called “groundfighters” in Torrance, California, according to Kerodin’s blog.
“His martial arts ‘skill set,’ as he calls it, serves him well in his current incarnation doing close-quarters battle training. He changed his name to Kerodin in 2003 when he began a convoluted effort to scam shopping centers with a phony security scheme in the post-9/11 scare. He was convicted on a weapons charge and a felony for the scam and served about two years in prison and, thus, was prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon. His wife, Holly, who is a person of color, stuck with him during this period and the two have a tight bond, according to Kerodin’s blog.”
In reviewing James L. Miller’s online postings, Zeskind and Burghart found that he has “an interest in guns, preparedness and President Obama’s birth certificate. Skilled as a machinist, he registered ‘Millerized’ with the State of West Virginia in 2010 and opened a machine shop in Berkeley County that customized motorcycle accessories. He also applied for and received his Federal Firearms License and did some work customizing weapons also. After getting divorced, however, Miller closed up the motorcycle parts business and on June 30, 2011, filed the necessary paperwork. Four months later he joined forces with Kerodin’s Threepers.”
“In August 2012, he restarted his firearms business, which became III Arms Company that October, according to the West Virginia secretary of state’s office. Since that time he has written publicly about taking orders and buying equipment and materials. Finally, he started manufacturing AR-15s last summer, which are being sold for about $1,500 each. Weapons prices are on a steep rise right now and there is little doubt that Miller will be able to easily sell every rifle he produces. Soon, if the group’s writings are accurate, the profits will be plowed back into the Citadel enterprise.”
Miller seems to be thoroughly enjoying the attention generated by publicity about The Citadel. Hunter Walker reported that a Facebook page that seems to belong to Miller “features pictures of customized military fatigues with the III Arms logo and the words ‘Millerized’ and ‘Patriot.’ It also includes a picture of one of the Citadel’s more prominent media mentions, a headline about the community on the Drudge Report accompanied by the following caption from Miller: ‘We are now huge.’”
Bill Berkowitz is an activist and freelance writer covering conservative movements.